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ARGB vs RGB: Which is Best?

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This article aims to compare and contrast the two popular color models, ARGB (alpha, red, green, blue) and RGB (red, green, blue), in order to help you make an informed decision about which is best for your specific needs.

We also discuss the differences between ARGB and RGB fans, connectors, and lighting systems, as well as the pros and cons of each.

What is ARGB vs RGB?

ARGB and RGB are both commonly used in digital imaging, but there are some key differences that can affect the appearance of your images. In order to make informed decisions about which color mode is best for you, it’s important to understand these differences.


RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue, and refers to a combination of three color emitters within the same device or individual LED units on the same package (lighting unit). The intensity of each color can be varied from dark to maximum bright, with multiple gradations in between.

The overall output can be any color in the RGB spectrum by adjusting the strength of each color. This means that the lighting unit can produce red, green, blue, or any other color combination ranging from red to white.

Example of RGB colors and components
Example of RGB colors and components


ARGB stands for Addressable RGB, and includes an “alpha” channel for transparency. This is useful for layering images and creating transparent text or graphics. Each LED chip’s color is individually customizable and operates at 5V. The connector has three or four pins, but only three are used.

Example of ARGB colors and components
Example of ARGB colors and components

What is the difference between ARGB and RGB?

RGB is not addressable, which means that these lights work in series. ARGB has a significantly lower voltage and produces better color than regular RGB. Because they are addressable, you can interact with ARGB in parallel and create a wide range of colors.

ARGB vs RGB Header:

RGB operates at 12V and has four pins instead of three. However, this version does not allow you to control each LED individually. ARGB, on the other hand, stands for Addressable RGB and has three pins, one of which is powered by 5V. ARGB is more advanced than regular RGB because each LED can be adjusted separately, resulting in more attractive lights.

ARGB Fan vs RGB Fan

When it comes to selecting a fan for your computer, you need to determine whether you want an ARGB or RGB model. While both types of fans have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to understand the differences between the two in order to choose the right one for your needs.

ARGB fans are typically more expensive but they support “running” colors while RGB fans do not.

ARGB vs RGB Color Format

The ARGB color format includes an “alpha” channel for transparency, making it ideal for layering photos and creating transparent text or graphics. Conversely, the RGB format does not have an alpha channel, making it unable to depict transparency.

RGB consists of three pins for red, green, and blue, and by adjusting the amount of power each color receives, the desired color can be achieved with 255 possible power states. Addressable RGB, on the other hand, employs a series of individual RGB LED modules, each with an IC chip and separate red, green, and blue LEDs in a single package.

The color of each module is determined by a serial data stream generated by a controller.

  • If the modules offer 24-bit color, this data stream comprises 24 bits multiplied by the number of modules in the string.
  • The controller transmits a series of bits to the first module.
  • The first module takes the first 24 bits of the string and saves them internally as RGB brightness values before copying the remaining bits to its DATA OUT terminal.
  • You may assign a different color to each RGB module using addressable RGB lighting.

Are ARGB and RGB compatible?

No, ARGB and RGB are not compatible as they have distinct voltages, 5V and 12V respectively. Plugging ARGB into an RGB connector can potentially harm the LED strip as it will receive power from 12V. Additionally, plugging RGB into an ARGB header will not damage the device, but it will not function properly. It is important to ensure that the correct headers are used on the motherboard as they are not interchangeable. Attempting to connect an RGB connection to an aRGB header can result in damage to the header.

What happens when RGB fan and strips is plugged into ARGB header and vice versa

When an RGB fan or strip is plugged into an ARGB header, one of the three pins will receive a power signal and light up a single color. Other components may not function properly due to insufficient power.

Conversely, when an ARGB header is plugged into an RGB connector, no color will be produced as the power signal from the header will not match the correct voltage for the device.

  • Plugging the rgb header to argb will result in one single color
  • The fan will continue to work.
  • Plugging an argb header to rgb will result to nothing (no color)

It is important to note that RGB fans operate on a power ground signal rather than electricity to each lighting channel, and connecting it to 12V can damage the LED lights.

Can you connect ARGB to a RGB motherboard?

It is possible to connect ARGB lighting to an RGB motherboard using a suitable connector, such as a 4-pin or 3-pin header. However, depending on the specific motherboard and ARGB lighting system, an adapter or controller may be required to link the two systems together.

RGB Converter:

One solution to connecting ARGB devices to an RGB motherboard is using an RGB converter, such as the Deepcool RGB Converter. This converter allows for a smooth connection between the two systems, with a variety of voltages to suit your specific needs. To set up the converter, simply attach the power cable to the hub, connect the 12V header to your motherboard’s header, and link the RGB wire from the fan to the hub. This will convert the 5V to 12V for the RGB connection.


Another option is using an RGB splitter, which allows you to power multiple fan motors from a single cable connected to your motherboard. For example, you can connect a three-pin 5V header with a splitter to a four-pin motherboard using a controller with limited functionality.

To set up the fans using a splitter, first connect the RGB splitter cable to the PC cooler controller, then connect the other ends to the Molex power and peripheral cable. Finally, connect the other end to the PSU.

Best RGB Devices to Consider:

Looking to add some color to your setup? Check out our list of the best RGB devices to consider, including a converter, LED strip, lighting system, fan, keyboard, and mouse. Each of these products offers customizable RGB lighting and high-quality performance.

  • Deepcool RGB Convertor: This device allows you to connect your ARGB lighting to an RGB motherboard through a suitable connector. It can be used with various motherboard and ARGB lighting systems, and may require an adapter or controller to link the two.

DeepCool ARGB Convertor 5V ADD-RGB to 12V RGB Transfer Hub

  • Phanteks LED RGB Strip: This LED strip allows you to add vibrant lighting to your setup. It features digital RGB lighting and can be controlled through a compatible controller.

Phanteks NEON Digital-RGB LED Strip Combo Set (PH-NELEDKT_CMBO) – 2X 400mm Smooth Lighting Strip, Full Color Range, Flexible mounting

  • iCUE LS100 Lighting: This individually addressable lighting system allows you to customize the colors and effects of your lighting setup. It includes an easy-to-use controller and installation guide.

Corsair iCUE LS100 Smart Lighting Strip Starter Kit (Individually Addressable LEDs, Built in Light Diffusion, Easy Installation) Includes 2 x 450 mm Strips, 2 x 250 mm Strips and Lighting Controller

  • CORSAIR ML120 RGB ELITE Fan: This fan boasts magnetic levitation and AirGuide lighting technology for a high-performance and visually impressive cooling solution.

CORSAIR ML120 RGB ELITE, 120mm Magnetic Levitation RGB Fan with AirGuide, 3-Pack with Lighting Node CORE, Black

  • Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Keyboard: This keyboard features per-key RGB backlighting and premium Cherry MX mechanical key switches. It also includes dedicated media controls and a comfortable wrist rest.

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, Backlit RGB LED, Cherry MX Speed RGB Silver, Black (CH-9127414-NA)

Corsair Dark Core RGB Pro, Wireless FPS/MOBA Gaming Mouse with SLIPSTREAM Technology, Black, Backlit RGB LED, 18000 DPI, Optical,CH-9315411-NA

Best ARGB Devices to Enhance Your Setup:

ARGB (alpha, red, green, blue) technology allows you to fully customize the lighting on your computer components and peripherals. If you’re looking to add some flair to your setup, check out these top ARGB devices:

  • Liquid CPU Cooler: The DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX L360 ARGB is a high-performance all-in-one cooler that features customizable ARGB lighting. It is compatible with LGA2066 and 2011-v3 sockets, making it a versatile choice for a wide range of systems.

DEEPCOOL GAMMAXX L360 ARGB 360mm AIO Liquid CPU Cooler I Intel LGA2066/2011-v3/2011/1700/1200/1151/1150/1155 I AMD AM4/AM5 - DP-H12CF-GL360-ARGB

  • Fans: The ARCTIC P12 PWM PST A-RGB pack includes four high-quality fans that offer quiet operation and customizable ARGB lighting. These fans are PWM controlled, so you can adjust the speed to suit your needs.

ARCTIC P12 PWM PST A-RGB (3 Pack) - 120 mm PWM case Fan Optimized for Static Pressure, case Fan, semi-Passive: 0-2000 RPM, 5V 3 pin ARGB LED, Single Fan - Black

  • Splitter: The Cooler Master 1-to-5 ARGB splitter allows you to connect up to five ARGB devices to a single header on your motherboard. This can be especially useful if you have limited header availability or want to simplify your cable management.

Cooler Master 1-to-5 ARGB Splitter Cable / 5V - Support 3-pin Addressable RGB - LED Sync Cable for MasterFan/MasterLiquid ARGB Series Support(ARGB 1-to-5 Splitter)

  • LED Strip: The NEON Addressable RGB LED strip is a flexible and easy-to-install lighting solution that can be controlled via a compatible motherboard or controller. It features a silicone casing and strong magnets, making it a durable and convenient choice.

NEON Addressable RGB PC LED Strip, 2022 New Airgoo 2x16inch Diffused Rainbow Magnetic ARGB Strip for 5V 3-pin Aura SYNC, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, MSI Mystic Light Sync, with 12pcs Strong Magnetic Brackets

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Pigtou Editorial Team

A group of tech enthusiasts who find pleasure in troubleshooting and resolving various issues. When we're not engaged in writing, we typically enjoy playing table football or spending time with our office dog.
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